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Africa Travel Resources

Planning a trip to Africa? Well you’ve come to the right place!

I’ve been travelling, backpacking and flashpacking my way through Africa for 10 years now and the whole reason this site exists, is to help others do the same!

On this page you’ll find my favourite resources to help you plan your own amazing and life-changing trip across the African continent!

This guide includes all kinds of information, from how to start planning your trip to great apps to use, from sample itineraries to recommended hostels, from how to get around to suggestions on where to sleep, what to pack and how to look after your health when you travel.

As I discover new cool places, hotels, apps and products to help you travel Africa in the most awesome way possible, I’ll add them to the list!

Start Here

I’m going to start with a few of my posts that you may find helpful when beginning to plan your Africa trip.

Africa Travel Itineraries

I love creating the most epic itineraries and here are a few of my favourites to give you some ideas and inspiration. Includes things to see & do and where to stay.

Africa Visas

Knowing whether you need a visa or not, how much it’s going to cost you and whether you need to apply in advance is one of your biggest considerations when travelling to Africa.

The rules vary from country to country and from passport to passport so you need to ensure you are prepared. Just always make sure you have 6 months left on your passport and at least 2 pages per country for stamps and visas.

The embassies are always your best source of information, but you can also check here.

  • Project Visa: This is a great resource to get information on the visas you need for every country.
  • Wikipedia: You can check your visa requirements by nationality.

Africa Guidebooks

I am a big fan of guidebooks and these are my two favourite brands:

  • Lonely Planet: I’ve been a fan of Lonely Planet guides forever and travel with one pretty much everywhere I go.
  • Bradt Travel Guides: The Bradt guides are incredible and super detailed. I prefer them for the more off the beaten track destinations.

What to Pack

Here are my Africa packing lists to ensure you have a fun, comfortable and prepared trip to Africa, including clothes, electrical equipment, toiletries, baggage and more!

Getting To & Around Africa

Planes

Flights to Africa aren’t always as expensive as people think they are, especially if you can be a little bit flexible on your dates. I usually compare deals on the following sites:

  • Skyscanner: This is my go-to flight search engine for finding cheap flights to and within Africa. I usually play about with the dates a little, to get the best deals. You can also set up flight alerts.
  • Momondo: I’ll sometimes cross reference flights on Momondo. Sometimes you find better deals on here.

I’d also advise signing up to airline air miles rewards programmes and emails to get sale notifications.

Trains

Train travel in Africa is one of my favourite things to do and a great insight into life in this fascinating continent. I always think it’s a shame that the rail network isn’t more extensive as it would be amazing!

The quality of the trains vary wildly, from the fancy Blue Train in South Africa, to the rickety Tazara train that runs between Zambia and Tanzania – but it’s always an adventure!

  • The Man in Seat 61: This is my favourite blog/info site for train travel. There’s even a great interactive Africa train map!
  • Africa by train: the continents best rail journeys: Great article about some of the journeys you can take in Africa.
  • Kenya Railways: This is the place to book your seat on the Nairobi to Mombasa SGR train. Unfortunately at the moment they only accept M-PESA as payment, so you’ll either need to find someone with M-PESA to do it for, go through a booking agent or go down to the station yourself.
  • The Tazara Train: I took this train a few years ago and whilst it’s not fancy in any way shape or form (quite the opposite in fact), it was an experience!
  • Shosholoza Meyl: This was the train that my friend Lucia and I took between Cape Town and Johannesburg. This is a sleeper train, but was good fun! The best way to book is to go down to the station and book yourself in advance (it books up) or you could try using a travel agent.
  • The Blue Train: One of the most luxurious train journeys in the world, going from Cape Town to Pretoria.
  • Desert Express: A different way to experience Namibia, travelling between Windhoek and Swakopmund.
  • Rovos Rail: The Pride of Africa, one of the fanciest trains in the world going through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania.

Automobiles

Buses in Africa vary greatly! There are little public minibuses you pick up around town, bigger coaches that are good for long distances and hop-on, hop-off tourist buses. The companies below are the ones that I’ve found to be pretty reliable and good for long-distance journeys.

Most of the buses are best booked in-country (and it’s cheaper that way), maybe a few days before or you can go through a booking agent. Many hotels and safari operators can also help you with bus tickets for a small fee.

  • Modern Coast Express: A reliable bus service throughout Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.
  • The Guardian Coach: Coaches around Kenya.
  • Impala Shuttle: Transfers between Nairobi and the Kilimanjaro region. This is the company I used to travel from Moshi to Nairobi after my Kilimanjaro climb.
  • Riverside Shuttle: Transfers between Nairobi, Kilimanjaro International Airport, Arusha and Moshi.
  • All Africa Shuttles: Buses in Kenya and Tanzania.
  • Kilimanjaro Express: My favourite bus to take between Arusha/Moshi and Bagamoyo/Dar es Salaam. Book when there.
  • Tahmeed: I use this company to travel between Mombasa and Arusha/Moshi.
  • Intercape: A reliable bus company that operates in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.
  • Jonda Bus: These buses are good for travel between South Luangwa and Lusaka.
  • Mazhandu Family Bus Services: A good company that travels between Livingstone and various other destinations in Zambia.
  • Baz Bus: Hop-on, hop-off backpacker buses in South Africa.

Accommodation

During the high seasons a lot of the best places book up, so I always advise to book in advance if you can.

If you’re camping, this is less of a problem as there’s usually always space to pitch a tent, but I still suggest you at least call ahead to be sure.

There are also a lot of places that you won’t find on booking sites, so always ask for traveller and local recommendations – I also mention a lot of these on this blog.

To help you along, I’ve listed my favourite booking sites here:

  • Booking.com: This is my favourite site for booking my accommodation in Africa, as I find that they have the widest range.
  • Hostelworld: I also use sometimes use Hostelworld.
  • SafariNow: They have a great range of accommodation across Africa.
  • Airbnb: Occasionally, I also use Airbnb and if you’re a new sign up, you’ll also get £30 credit using this link.
  • Tripadvisor: I love using TripAdvisor to cross reference all the hotel reviews. They also show the hotel deals.
  • HotelsCombined: This site compares all the different prices from the various booking sites.

Cool & Useful Apps

Here are my Africa packing lists to ensure you have a fun, comfortable and prepared trip to Africa, including clothes, electrical equipment, toiletries, baggage and more!

  • Units Plus: This is a handy app for checking currency rates on the go.
  • iOverlander: Handy for picking up information from other travellers.
  • Maps.me: Great offline maps app, useful for when you are in the middle of nowhere.
  • Google Maps: I pretty much always use Google maps to plot my routes.
  • SkyView: Impress your friends with your knowledge of the night sky. And believe me, you’ll see a lot of it in Africa!
  • Whatsapp: Everyone uses Whatsapp to communicate in Africa, so download it before you go.
  • Sasol eBirds of Southern Africa: Do you know your Lilac-breasted Roller from your African Hoopoe? With this app you will!

Groups & Forums

  • Backpacking Africa Facebook Group: I manage this group and it’s always a great place to ask for recommendations for places to stay, safari companies, how to get around or find travel buddies. You’ll find that there are a lot of well-travelled Africa lovers in this group so you’ll usually get the help you need! I suggest you join immediately!
  • West Africa Travellers: This is the group with the most info if you’re heading over to the West side of the continent.

Health & Safety

These sites offer a great starting point to ensure you are protected whilst travelling in Africa.

I strongly advise that you seek the advice of your doctor or a specialist travel clinic before you travel to Africa to ensure you are covered for everything.

Safety

General Health Info

  • World Health Organisation: The major authority on travel health everywhere in the world.
  • The Travel Doctor: Lot’s of useful information for what vaccinations and medications you may want to consider, by country or region.
  • Nomad Travel Clinic: This is where I go to get my injections in the UK (the ones I can’t get free from my GBP).

Malaria

Yellow Fever

Travel Insurance

It’s so important that you have travel insurance when travelling through Africa to ensure you are covered in case of emergencies.

Hospital treatment can be very expensive in Africa, especially if you need airlifting to a big city for treatment. Just make sure you read the small print!

I tend to switch between a few different companies for my travel insurance, depending on my needs:

  • InsureandGo: Good all-round UK insurance provider.
  • World Nomads: They offer a great range of travel insurance for all of your adventurous, overland and backpacking needs.
  • Outbacker: If I don’t use InsureandGo or World Nomads, I use Outbacker (UK only) who have a similar level of cover.
  • First Allied: They offer insurance to a wide range of nationalities, not limited just to UK or Europe. They can provide high-risk insurance for the full duration of your trip or for just a couple of days as a bolt on.
  • Battleface: Good for high-risk destinations. They will insure you for a minimum of 5 days, so as above, you can get normal insurance to cover you for the entirety of your trip and then Battleface would cover you for the high-risk part. Again, check with them if you are going to multiple countries and/or getting cover for your entire trip.
  • High Risk Voyager: Another good choice for high-risk destinations.

You can read more about insurance for high-risk destinations here.

Great Books About Africa

You can find more books about Africa here.

Rock My Adventure – Small Group African Adventure Tours

Want to experience Africa my way?

Then join one of our small group African adventure tours!

Our aim is to literally rock your adventure and make sure you have an amazing experience on your trip to Africa by organising an epic and culturally immersive itinerary, at an affordable price, plus you get comprehensive pre-departure information and a ready-made group of travel buddies!

We work with and support locally run businesses to show you the Africa we know and love and ensure you have a unique, magical, once in a lifetime adventure!

We go on amazing safaris, climb mountains and go gorilla trekking, but we also visit local markets and villages, take you off the beaten path, go to the local bars and restaurants and introduce you to our local friends.

Our exciting, fun and cultural trips take place in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, the DRC, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, eSwatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Benin & Togo, with new destinations being added as we grow.

Ready to fall in love with Africa? Then click here. 

Safaris & Overland Tours

Safari Companies

Finding your perfect safari can be a little tricky. Hardly any safari companies (that I’ve found anyway) state their prices on the website.

It’s usually a process of collecting quotes (which can be a bit of a pain) or using an agent to do so. The prices vary wildly for safaris based on method of travel, number of people and type of lodgings.

The good thing is, there are safaris for everyone, not just the super-rich.

  • SafariBookings.com: This is a great resource for finding a safari to suit your needs without searching for hours on Google. You can search by country, number of days, cost etc. They have expert reviews and consumer reviews. You still need to contact the companies for quotes, but, it does help to narrow don the initial search!
  • Tripadvisor: I usually cross-reference any of the reviews from Safribookings.com with Tripadvisor, just to make sure!

Overland Tours

  • Intrepid Travel: Intrepid run tours to 28 different African countries so there’s a wide variety to choose from.
  • G Adventures: Various tours between 3 and 54 days, on the more expensive end of the overlanding scale.
  • Acacia Africa: I’ve not used Acacia but I hear good things about them friends. They offer different types of overland tours between 3 and 58 days.
  • Absolute Africa: I did a 73-day overland with Absolute Africa in 2009 and another shorter one in 2014. They’re a great budget option, with mostly camping and I’d highly recommend them.

Please Note: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which will earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you. Affiliate sales help with the running costs of this site, so thank you for your support!

12 Comments

  • Beth
    April 7, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Lovely, detailed article.

    Reply
  • Aurélia
    June 25, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    Hi Helen!
    Thanks to your amazing blog, we finally dare to travel to Africa
    We will go with Mara Explorers Camp to Kenya and then with Viva Africa on the Kilimandjaro.
    After that, we’d like to go kitesurfing in Zanzibar and we were wondering if Air Tanzania is a safe air company? Precision Airline doesn’t offer direct flights to Zanzibar and Air Viva (which we find on Skyscanner) seems to be a scam and is anyway more expensive than Air Tanzania…
    Thanks again for all of your help in planning our trip!
    Cheers
    Aurelia

    Reply
    • Helen
      June 26, 2017 at 7:44 pm

      Hi Aurelia,

      Aw, that’s amazing you are travelling to Africa!!!

      I haven’t flown to Zanzibar I’m afraid, but I hear Coastal are ok! Kenya Air fly to Zanzibar. Have you tried both airports? Arusha and Kilimanjaro? I usually get the ferry which is fun!

      Hope you find your flights!

      x

      Reply
  • david white
    July 4, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Hi Helen, nice blog with some excellent clear advice, I have clicked the Notify me box and look forward to hearing about your upcoming 2017 trips, would love to hear about any trips in West Africa ( Gambia )..

    Reply
  • nirmala
    August 26, 2017 at 7:45 am

    Hi, Helen!
    Great Blog with detailed information.Actually, I planning to visit Africa in September.Is the right time to visit.

    Reply
  • Caleb Olorunmaiye
    September 20, 2017 at 10:26 am

    This is amazingly rich and robust. I’m sharing this with everyone I can. Terrific job Helen. Well done

    Reply
  • Joaquin
    September 23, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Thanks you very much for the information. I loved your blog, have everything that I need for my solo trip for Africa in December!

    Reply
    • Helen
      October 17, 2017 at 10:13 am

      That’s awesome!!! 🙂

      Reply
  • Babbette
    October 14, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Excellent set of resources, thank you! Starting to put together plans for my first trip to that part of the world and it seems overwhelming. However, with the info you’ve got here, I think I’ll be able to navigate and plan quite well thank you very much! I really like the film list. I think I’ll need to start diving into them to get in the mood. 🙂

    Reply
    • Helen
      October 17, 2017 at 10:11 am

      Great!!! Glad it’s been useful! 🙂

      Reply
  • Eva
    December 6, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Great blog, thanks a lot for sharing! I am leaving for Africa in a month, so excited! Also inspiring to see that you decided to follow your dream and started you own travel company. Wish you the best of luck, maybe I’ll come with you next time! 🙂

    Reply
    • Helen
      December 10, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks so much Eva! Good luck on your journey – hope you have an amazing time!

      Reply

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